Citizen, business of the year named in Harrington

HARRINGTON — Heritage Day serves as a celebration of community and the collective history found in their roots. This year, community members were also recognized as a part of the celebration.

“The committee came up with the idea last year to get more people involved,” City Planner Jeremy Rothwell said during the second annual Heritage Day Community Dinner Friday, Aug. 24 at the Harrington Fire Company.

The idea did just that as organizers almost doubled the attendance from last year.

Citizen of the year

Hidden in the crowd were honorees and those accepting awards for loved ones, like Elena Paladino who accepted the citizen of the year award on behalf of her late mother, Anne Paladino.

“This person means a lot to me. Unfortunately, we have to award this posthumously,” Harrington Mayor Tony Moyer said as he presented the award at the dinner.

Carol Kalinofski of the Lake Forest Church Association’s Food Pantry nominated Ms. Paladino and couldn’t imagine anyone else filling that role.

Ms. Paladino found her way to Harrington in 1980 after moving to town from New York.

“She worked as a bookkeeper at the Harrington Journal. She helped in all areas related to the business, as well as wrote a cooking column, entitled ‘Anne’s Kitchen.’ She collected many of those recipes and later printed a cookbook of the same name,” Mayor Moyer said.

Her business skills came from helping her father with his mechanic business and then owning her own business while in New York, according to her daughter.

“She got her business savvy from her father; he was a mechanic,” she said. “She did everything from cleaning the pistons to taking over the business.”

Continuing to tell her story, Mayor Moyer added that Ms. Paladino worked as the lead emergency room clerk/manager at Milford Memorial Hospital after working at the newspaper, retiring in 1997.

While working, Ms. Paladino found another calling: serving the church.

She was a devoted member of St. Bernadette’s Catholic Church in Harrington for 30 years, he said, eventually serving as the executive director of the Lake Forest Church Association Food Pantry from 1995 until her death Aug. 1 this year.

“The food pantry was one of her greatest accomplishments. She was the driving force for its expansion as the requests for food increased. Applying for grant status, she worked hard to secure a sizable space for over 60 volunteers to work and store food,” Mayor Moyer said.

“On behalf of the Harrington City Council, it is my honor to award the inaugural citizen of the year award posthumously to Anne Paladino.”

Ms. Kalinofski echoed Mayor Moyer’s comments after the dinner, speaking in awe of Ms. Paladino’s passion for the community.

“She had the whole vision for the grotto at St. Bernadette’s and fundraised so much. She stepped in as people’s grandparents when they couldn’t be there and volunteered reading as a grandparent,” she said.

But the food pantry may have been where Ms. Paladino’s biggest volunteering passion resided.

“When she first started, she would feed six families a week. Now, we could feed 30-40 a day,” Ms. Kalinofski said.

Watching that vision unfold took a lot of work, especially for Ms. Paladino who scheduled volunteers, ordered food, managed deliveries and paid the bills, to name just a few things on her plate.

“Scheduling volunteers was the first thing she relinquished when she got sick,” Ms. Kalinofsk said with a chuckle.

She added more details in her nomination of Ms. Paladino.

“She scheduled the volunteers (over 60 of them) that worked at the pantry three days every week. She would schedule the volunteers and airman from Dover Air Force Base that picked up the food order that Anne has placed each and every Friday with the Food Bank of Delaware for all those years,” she wrote.

“On two occasions this past year when Anne was hospitalized, she had her daughter bring her laptop to the hospital because it was Friday, and she had to place the order online so the people in need in her beloved town of Harrington would be fed.

“Anne managed the donations and scrutinized the food cost so we could get the most and best food for the donated dollars we received. . . She applied for every state grant that the Food Bank of Delaware offered. Many of these applications were lengthy and required a lot of time to complete. However, those grants resulted in food to feed our neighbors in need.”

The passionate Ms. Paladino suffered from heart and kidney problems for years. Her health severely declined once she started dialysis, her daughter says. But the passion of Harrington’s citizen of the year for 2018 lives on in the seeds she planted in Harrington.

Business of the year

Mr. Rothwell, secretary for the newly created Harrington Business Association, announced its president, Darrin Simpson of Blue Hen Construction, who stepped up next to announce the business of the year.

More than 30 businesses are currently represented in the new association which began meeting over a year ago.

“Looking out, I just want to thank everyone for coming tonight,” Mr. Simpson began. “The Harrington Business Association is really looking forward to making things better for Harrington and attracting businesses on the highway and to our downtown.”

The business of the year award has been in the works now since the start of the new association, he added. Nominations were passed to Jo Schmeiser, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford, and a committee assigned by their organization so to keep the process fair to all nominated businesses.

The Clutter Box Antiques and Used Furniture Store owners Jack Stewart and Frank Tolson were surprised to hear their names announced as this year’s business of the year honorees.

“These guys moved to Harrington in 2003,” Mr. Rothwell told the crowd, adding that they keep their home “meticulously maintained.”

In 2010, Mr. Stewart and Mr. Tolson joined forces to open a new business in downtown Harrington.

But Mr. Rothwell says the men don’t use their business skills for their own business alone.

“They are very involved with the [Harrington Business Association] Facebook stuff, promoting not only themselves, but everyone else, too, which is very appreciated,” he said.

Both have helped the city in other ways, as well. For example, Mr. Tolson sits on the board of adjustment. Mr. Stewart is a former city council member and has also helped with the Healthy Community committee and the comprehensive plan. He currently sits on the Harrington Economic Development Committee.

“I think Harrington is going forward. There’s community pride and people are working better together,” Mr. Stewart said. “I’m just shocked to be honest with you. There are so many amazing people in this town. And now we get to place this next to our cash register.”

Mr. Tolson credited much of the town’s growing success to other businesses, such as Main Street Café which also recently opened an ice cream parlor downtown, along with Mr. Rothwell’s expertise.

“We couldn’t have asked for better neighbors,” Mr. Stewart echoed.

Jennifer Antonik can be reached at

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